Naming your business

Hi All,

This question is towards the freelance designers out there…

Why did you name your business after yourself?


Why did you name your business something else?

I see pros and cons to both.

Branding is all about personality and creating a DNA with meaning. To me, naming the consultancy with your own name had no meaning unless people already know you. I chose something that was intended to make a statement of what I offer and how I work.

The Directive Collective.

Directive meaning focused and forward thinking with purpose. Collective is how I work both with clients and key contractors.

I brainstormed at least 50 other options before I came up with that. Will try to dig those up.

A non personal name also has the advantage that it’s perceived as more than an individual or personal opinion and can live on if you sell, incorporate or pass on to a new generation. (Though there are obviously examples of firms named for an individual still going when they are gone).


The branding process requires the same iterative method as the design process.


Rinse and repeat.

Without the process, choosing whether you use your name or not your name is akin to choosing blue or red for a product.

Also think it helps if your name has a bit of punch or uniqueness to it.

fred Bould Design & walter Teague - both these to me have a ton of character.

marc Newson Design -for some reason to me would not be as powerful. (maybe its in the syllables.)

Iab is correct, this is a design process. Of course part of the design process is gathering input and data for your research.

frog was originally esslinger design, but when they moved to the US, the German name was an issue, and frog summed up the symbol heavy whimsical nature of the firm. Before that most firms where so and so and associates.

I think as previously stated, if your name has cache (you are known) then it becomes a possible strategy, or if your name has a ring to it that just works. It should be said that this is going to make your firm harder to sell, something you probably are not thinking about right now, but down the road may be important. Also if you are a personality, even though a lot of other designers work at Stark, Newson, and Rashid, everything bears their signature look, there is a house style that is very strong.

Otherwise, it makes more sense to do what Richard did, though I’d argue that a lot of people know who he is personally at this point anyway, so maybe that is the best of both worlds.

Well put iab. It is indeed a branding process. I should have explained further.

When branding my own consultancy, I followed the same process I use when branding for my clients. It is important to first define what your strategic positioning is, what your brand/co. stands for, the personality of your brand, the vision and mission.

In my case, the plan was to create a design consultancy that did everything from strategy to design, development, graphics, packaging, marketing, while focused in footwear. Most consultancies in footwear were just 1 or two guys and design only. Lots of “So and So Design”, or generic names like “Advanced Design”. I wanted something less personal, more strategic, “bigger” sounding…

I did explore the whole gamut though…

Here’s a list of initial concepts (narrowed down a lot after this initial list)-

Richard Kuchinsky Design
R & K
R & K Studios
R & K Group
Richard, Inc.
Richard Group
Richard Kuchinsky Group
Rich & Associates
Richard & Associates
Richard Kuchinsky & Associates
Directive Creation
Directive Creator & Associates
Directive Creator Design Group
The Directive Creator Group
Directive Collective
Collective Directive Design
The Collective Directive
The Directive Collective
The Directive Creator
Directive Creative
Rich & You
Rich & I
Richard & I
Rich & Me
Richard & Me
Richard & You
You & Me Rich
Rich & New
Richard & New
Creation Directive
273 (size 9 last length)
273 Design
The Rich & The Good
The Rich Directive
Sole & Upper
Sole Directive
Studio Directive
Pink Design
Inc. Inc.
Pink, Inc.
Greative Creative
Design Whore
Shoe Whore
Great Create
Directive Projective
Directive Prospective
Directive Perspective
Directive Detective
Creative Projective
Perspective Detective
Obsessive Directive
Obsessive Perspective Directive
Obsessive Perspective Collective
Obsessive Collective
Collective Unconsciousness
Unconscious Collective
Dissociative Collective
Creative Collective


I recently developed a business name. One thing I made sure of was to check the availability of the URL. I toyed with adding my name (or initials) to the business name but in the end I decided it did not work well.

BTW Yo, you do know that frog stood for Federal Republic of Germany. I heard Esslinger talk about this many years ago.

Very good comments. I’ve also heard it isn’t a good idea to use your name due to legal reasons. Keep you and your business separate.

Tim, the Federal Republic story is one Hartmut told, but in actuality the studio had a pet frog long before that back in Germany, named Friedolin. I think the Federal Republic thing was a backfill, and another inside bit of lore.

The official abbreviation of Federal Republic of Germany in German is “BRD”. The english
equivalent “FRG” was only present in the media during Olympic games or the likes and lacks
the “o”.

So “backfill” sounds likely. How long do “pet” frogs last?


Personally, I think the “cache” thing goes both ways.
Yes, using your own name is obvious if it is already established or you jump onto the market with a lot of momentum, for example if a designer opens his own shop after heading another design firm successfully for years.

I feel that going with a branded name should generally be reserved for firms where several people are involved.
Personally, if a designer wants to set up his own freelance shop, I’d recommend going with your own name.
Of course, a catchy name helps. If it is say a Joe Schmo John Smith kinda thing, why not go back to a cool nickname or invent one that believably could be interpreted as an actual name. Actors do this all the time.
Branded names from young designers looking for freelance work that try to be whimsical or clever just feel contrived and a bit silly to me, in the worst cases just arrogant and ridiculous.

No client will refer to the freelancer by his brand name anyway if it is only that one guy. I feel that if there are several people involved, a name which everyone can stand behind, makes a lot of sense.

Richard you missed the mark, man. Design Whore would have opened doors! Think of the success you could be having! :wink:

Strictly high-end whore of course. More like Design Escort. :wink:


Pure class.

indeed, “backronyms” are more common than actual acronyms if we’re being honest

now my mind is full of hip-hop emcees listing the depth behind their name
Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal
Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everybody

If you have a good sounding name that can reflect your business, you have good reason to use the name, especially when you are going to remain the main person in the business (rather than a team or larger organization).

My own name is a horrible brand name so I went for something to reflect the purpose of my designs.
I was especially looking to imbue character, soul, into product design so named the business Designsoul.
It also works as an umbrella term for smaller labels or initiatives - Designspark, Designsole (shoes), Designscribble (blog), Designsponge, Designsoup etc.

I am looking for a new name though to reflect something more concrete, more powerful and less lofty sounding, something in the line of

I was recently working on my company’s name and logo.
One of the most difficult projects I have ever done.
For my side the drivers to choose the name where the following :

a) I did not want to use my name as the office will be a joint venture between my wife and me. Then, as we will be working with many partners we wanted to keep our names (egos?) away so the end “product” is kind of a product of a team and not a person (or group of persons).
b) As we are coming European/Asian and we hope that we will have partners, clients from both continents we did not want to really have a letter-based name so we opted toward a name that includes numbers. In this way the name is more international and can be pronounced easily in every country (hehe… big ambitions)
c) As TimF mentioned, we checked if the url is available and we immediately purchased it.

We plan to have the whole process as project case. When everything is done, I will post the link of our process here.

Interesting discussion. We help companies over the years come up with company names among other branding concepts.

Re Association
I especially like the ‘re associations’ like Frog Design. I recall describing to customers about re allocations and using Frog as the example that being a successful company name. Going on to explain that when I hear Frog, I now think of the company as opposed to the amphibian. SUN was/is another favorite re accusation.

Using your name
I worked at the Joss Design group in the early 90’s as a studio engineer. They did all kinds of branding. I always liked the four letter ‘JOSS’ and they did cool things w/ the last name logo and it’s the same today. I personally never liked the idea of using ones name to brand the design firm or company. It just seams so vain but doing that does ensure the attention of the owner’s integrity. Makes for a good story when selling yourself to a potential customer as well. ‘its got my name on it’

I also worked at Chicago’s Goldmith Yamasaki Speck in the 90’s and recall hearing the founders talk about the Igloo Cooler Company. Originally the company was named after three founders last names. I did a couple searches to recall what it was called but didn’t find it but it was ironically something similar to their the awkward Goldmith Yamasaki Speck name. Once the first cooler was branded ‘Igloo’ and made one year of sales, then Paul Speck introduced the idea to the three partners the idea of re branding the company after their successful cooler. I’m guessing that was around 1972 What I recal from talking to Paul was that it would be inappropriate to offer the company name change before a year of successful sales even though Paul thougt to offer the idea sooner.

Then there is the acronym. Not a big fan but those work. It seams companies that have a cool name and often try to create an acronym in hind sight. creating an acronym in an afterthoughts often don’t work.

I really like what New Belgium Brewery did by using by utilizing the iconic bicycle + using Hatch Design with illustrations by Boston, MA-based Leah Giberson < gogole her and you may recognize her paintings on the bear packaging.

In the end i guess Im trying to point out that selling it by telling a story. Maybe re telling the story the founders already know and doing all that at the right time is what it takes to sell branding.

Hello! For naming a company you have to be careful with the “copyright” of the name. Also it is very helpful to make a business a simple yet catchy name. If you plan to go international, as said before you need to be careful with the translating. There is a case that when a big company was becoming international it could go to one region because the name was a bad word. So it depends too where do you want to expand. :smiley:

If you have an established location, especially one where clients visit or you are doing manufacturing, then consider the street name of your location if it is interesting or catchy. Sounds silly I know, but I’ve actually seen a start-up take this approach with great success, “hey, these guys have their own street name, they must be going places!”.